Review: Unquiet Spirits by Bonnie MacBird

I recently finished reading Bonnie's latest Sherlock Holmes pastiche - Unquiet Spirits - and it has been a good ride.

The first thing to note is that the book is substantially bigger than its predecessor. However this is a good thing as you are unlikely to want it to end. Bonnie's Watsonian voice was good in Art in the Blood but it is even better here.

The core plot concerns a disease affecting the French wine industry and the belief in certain quarters that it was engineered by parties in Scotland hoping that Whisky will benefit as a result. As I've described it it probably doesn't sound the most promising start for a Sherlock Holmes adventure but that is my fault. The majority of the story takes place in Scotland as Holmes and Watson investigate at the home of the Scottish family around whom the events revolve. Our duo investigate a contemporary crime and, in the process, raise the Unquiet Spirits of the title.

MacBird decides to flesh out Sherlock Holmes's back story and in so doing demonstrates influences from both The Seven Percent Solution and The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. Some of the elements inspired by these two sources are ones that I have never really bought into (wherever they have been expressed) but I cannot go into them without revealing things that the reader must encounter for themselves. Nevertheless, they are handled well and describe events that very well could have led to the creation of the fully-formed consulting detective that we know and love.

The locations and people are well drawn and I was particularly amused to encounter a character with my name even though some of his characteristics were less than positive.

All in all a very good novel and I look forward to the next.

Written by Alistair Duncan Buy my books here

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